May 17 - The New York transit system holds auditions for subway performers. Alicia Powell reports.
The sounds of the subway get competitive. Each year dozens of musicians try out at the annual Music Under New York auditions, which grants permits to performers to entertain commuters on the transit system. The auditions included everything from one man bands to aspiring singers like Anja Ghelli. SOUNDBITE: Anja Ghelli, singer, saying (English): "There's a lot of talent on the subway. I mean there are no bad musicians on the subway and some of them are you know the best musicians in the world. Not to say that they are only in New York, they are everywhere. But New York is a cut throat environment for musicians to succeed." Bassist Craig Robison says he plays twice a week at various subway stations and racks in $30-300 USD a day. SOUNDBITE: Craig Robison, bassist, saying (English): "It means security, artistic security as much as financial security...knowing that I can go out there and play when I want and that there will always be people to listen to it." The panel of 33 judges includes musicians, MTA workers and people in the entertainment industry. Judge Alex Steyermark says each year the competition gets stiffer. SOUNDBITE: Alex Steyermark, judge, saying (English): "I think that the subway is a great forum to expose New Yorker's to good ideas and new music. I look for quality so I want them to be good musically but I also want them to be unique. That's what I look for. But I'm a tough judge." Only 350 permits are granted through the program, operates in 25 subway stations and includes performances in all genres. Alicia Powell, Reuters.